GAIL buys costliest LNG ever

New Delhi, May 17 | Updated: May 18 2006, 05:30am hrs
India will receive its most expensive LNG (liquified natural gas) till date on Friday. GAIL (India) Ltd has contracted an LNG cargo of 1.35 lakh cubic meter from Sonatrach of Algeria at an ex-shipment price of about $9.28 per million metric British thermal unit (mmbtu).

After adding various taxes and other costs, this translates into a delivered price of $11.64 per mmbtu if sold outside Gujarat and $12.04 per mmbtu if sold within Gujarat.

This price is, however, higher than that paid by Shell for its mid-April import of LNG cargo of 1.45 lakh cubic meter from Oman at the Hazira LNG terminal.

At a cost, insurance and freight price of around $8 per mmbtu, Shell is believed to have sold the re-gassified LNG at $9.07 per mmbtu to Essar and Gujarat State Petroleum.

When contacted, GAIL officials said they had no option but to buy more expensive gas from Algeria since Shell could not assure consistency of supplies. However, Vikram S Mehta, chairman, Shell Group, in India disputed this and said, We can assure customers competitive access to gas in the quantities that they require provided we are assured access to the pipeline grid on a level-playing field basis.

Big catch

GAIL: We had no option but to buy more expensive gas from Algeria because Shell could not assure consistency of supplies
Shell: We can assure competitive access in quantities required if we get access to pipeline grid on a level-playing field basis

GAIL officials said much of the LNG imported from Alegeria will be used for the companys petrochemical plant at Jagdishpur which is facing gas shortages. Given the cost of naphtha at about $20 per mmbtu, LNG at $12.04 per mmbtu will still be economical, they said.

On a ex-shipment cost of around $9.28 per mmbtu, GAIL will have to pay 46 cents as customs duty and another 55 cents as re-gassification charges to PLL. The final cost of the re-gasified LNG at Dahej will be $10.29 per mmbtu. After adding transportation tariff of 47 cents, the price of LNG will be $10.76 per mmbtu.